The US increased pressure on India not to allow the use of Huawei equipment in the country’s 5G networks, as Washington continues its trade war with Beijing.

Financial Times reported US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross (pictured) pushed the matter during a visit to Delhi, warning Huawei can use “backdoors” to spy and steal personal data if installed in India’s national infrastructure.

“Anybody who thinks we are doing this for protectionism simply doesn’t know the facts. We hope that our geopolitical partner India does not inadvertently subject itself to untoward security risk”, said Ross.

Bharti Airtel uses Huawei equipment: its chariman Sunil Bharti Mittal hit back at Ross’ comments, noting India would make its own decisions based on its relationship with China.

India is the world’s second-largest telecoms market by subscribers and is geographically important to the US by providing a regional counterweight against Beijing. Vodafone-Idea also uses Huawei equipment.

Australian cybersecurity officials explained the country’s banning of Huawei gear in high level talks in Dehli last month.

In August, the Chinese government piled pressure on India to not listen to US warnings, indicating it could retaliate against Indian companies in China.

The South Asian country has little time to mull over Huawei’s participation as it will be holding spectrum auctions by the end of the year or early 2020.

Washington has been pressuring allies to not use Huawei gear and has charged the company for intellectual theft, fraud and unfair trading practices.

The US and China are in the midst of a massive trade war where both have sanctioned tariffs on billions of dollars against each other’s goods. Businesses and global economies have been negatively affected by it.